The chatter over tough, new, Must Have gun control regulations in the wake of the Washington shipyard shooting has been considerably more muted (though not absent) than in the periods following other recent tragedies of a similar nature. This is understandable on a number of counts, but one area where the clamoring of the righteous has still bubbled to the surface is found in the cries for reform when it comes to the mentally ill. Leaving aside for a moment the inconvenient fact that the shooter was never treated for any mental illness by the VA – contrary to early reporting – or the fact that he had no arrest record for unstable behavior, it’s an idea still gaining in popularity. And it’s a dangerous one which should be approached with caution for several reasons.
Better and more accessible care for the truly mentally ill is a worthwhile goal, and one which should be pursued. (And Kelly Ayotte already has a plan to do so without infringing anyone’s Second Amendment rights.) But we need to stand firm against any proposed federal legislation which purports to make everyone safer by keeping guns out of the hands of (or confiscating them from!!!) the mentally ill. That last sentence is sure to set the hair of many liberals afire, but there’s a reason for this sense of caution. You see, we already know where that path leads because we’ve seen the terminus of it in the state of New York, and it’s a nightmare.
Following the Newtown tragedy, the Empire State – already steeped in a tradition of denying Second Amendment rights wherever the state government was able – quickly leapt into action and passed the NY SAFE Act. This disastrous assault on the rights of the state’s citizens led to David Lewis being confronted by police at the front door of his home and having his guns confiscated under threat of arrest. The reason for the showdown was that authorities had mistaken him for somebody else who had committed the sin of seeking medical help and receiving medication for depression at one point in the past. The courts eventually forced the government to give David his guns back, and liberals will proudly tell you that this was a non-story because the system worked and he didn’t lose his rights. But the big lie that they foster is found in the fact that David Lewis was never the story here. It was the guy they were trying to get when they came to David’s house by mistake. They had criminalized the act of being treated for depression and made it grounds to seize your guns without ever having a day in court.
But that was the goal all along, and it’s precisely what makes this latest “mental health” ploy so dangerous as anti Second Amendment enthusiasts seek to reopen the national background check discussion. Gun grabbers have found an issue where they can get almost unanimous consent across the board, including from gun owners. Nobody wants the dangerously insane to have weapons… not even the NRA. So using that bit of light coming in under the edge of the door, they’ve found a point of attack. Since we all agree that the insane shouldn’t have guns, we’ll pass a law to enforce that. And then we’ll start dumbing down the definition of “insane” to include as many people as possible. There is no longer any question that Aaron Alexis was insane in some fashion. But unfortunately for us all, through a combination of poor police work and random twists of fate, his behavior never rose to the level where he would fail a background check. In retrospect, it’s easy to say that he was nuts, what with talking to himself, being paranoid about people he met and a propensity toward fits of anger. But how many other people does that describe who will never resort to violence? If we allow the government to lower the bar on “mental illness” to that level, vast legions of Americans will all become David Lewis.
Because in the end, this was never about helping people. This was not a story of saving the public from the mentally ill or saving the insane from themselves. This is about taking away the guns, just as it has always been. This is the story of a vast group of extremely angry and frustrated liberals who are forlorn at the refusal of certain lines from the Constitution to simply disappear. And since they can’t rid the founding documents of the hated clause, their long time tactic has been to adopt the First Amendment “fire in the theater” caveat to say that all rights have limitations, and then to seek out every possible nook and cranny to find “exceptions” where gun rights can be infringed and weapons can be confiscated. The mental health issue is no exception. We already have a system in place for defining those who are too dangerously deranged to own guns, and it involves having people adjudicated as such in a court of law with the opportunity to defend themselves and challenge the finding if they wish. That is sufficient. As we’ve already seen in New York, if you let the anti-gun rights lobby define the mentally ill when it comes to background checks and gun ownership, soon enough they will define wanting to own a gun as a mental illness.
If we fall for that, then we truly will have the government we deserve for being fools.